Posts Tagged ‘André-Pierre Gignac’

French football quotes of the year 2013

Zlatan IbrahimovicFrom post-match brawls and Twitter spats to weather vanes, broken televisions and Justin Bieber, Football Further proudly presents its seasonal compilation of the year’s best French football quotes.

Argy-bargy

“People have a good image of me. It’s not these tramps who are going to tarnish my image. They should stop lying to the French people. It annoys me that people talk about ‘your image’. My image is great in France. When I’m abroad, I don’t even talk about it. But in France it’s just these people, these parasites.”
- Patrice Evra on his friends in the media

“I go to talk to the referee. At that moment, the delegate blocks me and pushes me towards the referee. As a result, I touch the referee with my back. It happened exactly like that. I didn’t push the referee.”
- Leonardo‘s not entirely accurate account of his encounter with referee Alexandre Costa after Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-1 draw with Valenciennes in May. It ultimately costs him a 14-month suspension, effectively forcing him out of French football

“This year we’ve lost lots of players, as always, but we’ve lost something very important: the pillars of Valencia, players like [Roberto] Soldado, David Albelda or Tino Costa who talk in the changing room. Now there are lots of boot-lickers who don’t say things to your face. That’s why things aren’t going well between me and Đukić.”
- Adil Rami explains why his relationship with Valencia coach Miroslav Đukić has broken down. And is promptly frozen out of the squad

“There was an altercation that I wasn’t involved in. My goalkeeping coach, Fabrice Grange, was surrounded by a load of people who were pushing him. Jean-Michel Aulas arrived – I don’t know why. All I did was push him back. He says that I hit him in the back, which is scandalous. If I’d done that, he wouldn’t have been able to do an interview with Canal+ three minutes later.”
- Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stéphane Ruffier rejects an accusation from Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas that he punched him during a tunnel scuffle after a heated derby du Rhône

“And what’s the other one called, Screwdriver? Rolland Screwdriver. All he does is talk.”
- Evra again, unwittingly rechristening manager/pundit Rolland Courbis ‘Rolland Tournevis’

Les Bleus

“After the Euro, the media attention was very difficult to digest. I’d say that it ruined my season a bit. Everyone talked to me about it. I handled the situation badly, I accept that. I should have given a mea culpa. I shut myself off and, with hindsight, I realise that I was wrong.”
- Samri Nasri reflects on Euro 2012

“If I had to do everything again, if I had the possibility to relive exactly the same life, I’d do it, I’d want the same one. I’d do everything the same. It’s beautiful, all the same. I’m happy with what I’ve experienced up to now.”
- Éric Abidal on his battle with liver problems

“Above my mantelpiece, in the living room. My wife’s prepared everything.”
- Asked where he would put the Ballon d’Or trophy if he won it, Franck Ribéry reveals that he’s barely given it any thought at all

“When the coach told me I was playing, I said: ‘We’re going to Brazil.’ It doesn’t matter how. If I’d had to score with my hand, the ball would have been in the back of the net.”
- Mamadou Sakho, who scores two goals as France overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Ukraine to book their place at next year’s World Cup

“I’d never seen such an atmosphere at the Stade de France. It was a beautiful moment to experience, all those people behind us, the flags, the chants. From the hotel to the stadium we felt that force pushing us.”
- Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris

“RESPECT.”
- So often the scourge of the national team, L’Équipe takes its cue from Ali G with a simple one-word headline the day after the match

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French football quotes of the year 2012

Samir NasriFrom AVB to Zlatan, Newcastle to Donetsk, Football Further is proud to present its third annual compilation of the year’s best French football quotes.

Cross-Channel relations

“Yesterday, I make one tackle and all everybody speak about is this tackle. Nobody speaks about the 50-yard pass that kills [Florent] Balmont and causes a red card for ‘im.”
- Replete with some elaborate eyebrow-waggling and a healthy dose of Gallic shrugging, Joey Barton‘s attempts to ingratiate himself with the Marseille media become an instant YouTube classic

“Eden Hazard’s English is catastrophic. I asked him: ‘Are you happy with your transfer?’ He said: ‘I don’t understand!’”
- Romelu Lukaku on his new Chelsea team-mate

“It was the feeling I had with the coach. He said he trusted me, but he didn’t let me play. He said I was too young. He said: ‘Your time will come.’ It didn’t come. Even though he’s had a 25-year career and despite the fact he’s the boss, my objective was to play … I’m impatient. When I want something, I’ll do anything to get it.”
- Paul Pogba crosses Sir Alex Ferguson, and lives to tell the tale

“The only thing I miss is in the changing room. I can’t understand all the jokes and it’s frustrating. French is more difficult than I thought. I’m trying to take my lessons very seriously. I listen to them for at least half an hour each day. The other day I watched a film in French, with English subtitles. It was Ne le dis à personne ['Tell No One'], which was a great film. I’m going to do it again.”
- Joe Cole may have left Lille with a sub-GCSE level of French, but he is now a leading authority on the films of Guillaume Canet

“I could become a doctor!”
- Abou Diaby tries to put a positive spin on all the medical vocabulary he has acquired during his time in and out of the Arsenal treatment room

Euro 2012

“I accept that you can ask questions about his sporting performances … But when I hear that he could be dangerous for the concept of the group, I feel like we’re trying to bring a wolf into the sheep pen. He’s been a part of the group since the start. He dropped out due to injury and then loss of form. Don’t make him out to be a wolf, because he isn’t one.”
- Laurent Blanc tells the media not to cry wolf after handing Yoann Gourcuff a place in his preliminary squad

“Shut your face! Shut your face!”
- Samir Nasri celebrates his goal in the opening game with England by thanking the gentlemen of the French press for their support

“There was a bit of a slanging match in the changing room.”
- Olivier Giroud lets the cat out of the bag about the row that erupted after France’s shock 2-0 loss to Sweden

“Go fuck yourself! Go fuck your mother, you son of a bitch! There, now you can write that I’m badly brought up.”
- Such a nice boy, that Samir Nasri – lashing out at a journalist following Les Bleus‘ quarter-final elimination by Spain

“We’ve told them to be vigilant and not to say anything that could hurt the group.”
- French Football Federation press officer Philippe Tournon, prior to the tournament, on the instructions given to France’s players about how to handle the media

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Pitchside Europe: Marseille resistance keeps things interesting

“As in all the great rivalries, much of Marseille’s sense of identity is derived from their fierce opposition to everything PSG, and the events of the last year or so have only served to make the distinction between the clubs clearer. If PSG are the nouveau riche aristocrats, OM have become the sooty-faced street urchins, scrapping and scheming for everything they can get. In André-Pierre Gignac, the striker no-one wanted, who matched [Zlatan] Ibrahimović’s brace at Stade Vélodrome, they have a fittingly unglamorous figurehead for their resistance to the billionaires from Paris.”

My latest Pitchside Europe column for Eurosport, on how Marseille exposed the shortcomings in Paris Saint-Germain’s star-studded squad, can be read here.

Report: Gignac matches Ibra as Marseille hold PSG

“PARIS — André-Pierre Gignac matched Zlatan Ibrahimović goal for goal to earn Marseille a 2-2 draw at home to Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday and keep OM three points clear of their arch rivals at the top of Ligue 1.”

My AFP match report on how André-Pierre Gignac and Zlatan Ibrahimović upstaged Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (OK, nearly upstaged) in Sunday’s night Classique at Stade Vélodrome can be read here.

Pitchside Europe: ‘Big Mac’ Gignac bites back

“[Gignac] has emerged as the unlikely inspiration behind Marseille’s revival under new coach Elie Baup. His £250,000-a-month salary makes him OM’s most handsomely remunerated player, but where he was once an emblem of the club’s ill-considered excesses, he has come to symbolise their hopes of renewal. The cost of renovating the Vélodrome and the drop in earnings caused by last season’s 10th-place finish means that Marseille have been able to sign just one player — 23-year-old forward Florian Raspentino, from Nantes — and their chances of success this season will depend on their thin squad digging deep and following Gignac’s example.”

This  season I will be writing exclusively about Ligue 1 for Eurosport Yahoo!’s Pitchside Europe blog, and you can read my piece on André-Pierre Gignac’s revival with Marseille here.

Related link: Nerves fray as PSG remain grounded

Report: PSG, Montpellier remain grounded in Ligue 1

“PARIS — Last season’s Ligue 1 top two, Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain, are still awaiting their first wins this term after adverse results on Sunday left both teams in the bottom half of the table.”

My AFP report on the third weekend of the Ligue 1 season, which ended with Marseille on top of the pile after yet more early-season woe for Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain, can be read here.

Top ten Ligue 1 transfer targets

Ligue 1 has proved a fertile hunting ground for Premier League sides in recent years – not least for Newcastle United – and as the January transfer window opens, several names from the French top flight find themselves linked with clubs from the English elite. Football Further runs the rule over the players making the headlines and identifies which of them are likely to be on the move.

1. Eden Hazard (Lille)
Unless unforeseen misfortune befalls him, Hazard will leave Lille this year and, when he does so, he will join one of Europe’s most famous clubs, but he is unlikely to depart this month. Rudi Garcia’s side may have gone into the winter break four points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, but their performance in the 0-0 draw at Parc des Princes on December 18 proved that they are PSG’s equal and they remain the most cohesive outfit in the division. With their title defence on track and no European distractions to contend with in the second half of the campaign, Lille will not yield Hazard in January unless they receive an astronomical bid. The player himself is in no hurry.

2. Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon)
Mention of Gourcuff’s name in the United Kingdom tends to conjure up memories of the match-winning performances and magisterial goals that characterised his performances in Bordeaux’s 2008-09 title-winning campaign, but Ligue 1 observers will attest that that player has not been seen for the best part of two years. An exhausted bystander as Bordeaux’s title defence crumbled in the second half of the 2009-10 season, Gourcuff endured a wretched World Cup and has failed to settle since joining Lyon in a €22 million deal in August 2010. Lyon are looking to recoup as much of his original transfer fee as possible but, despite rumours of a €12 million offer from Zenit Saint-Petersburg, a loan switch looks more probable. Arsène Wenger is a known admirer but, as he admitted recently, even with Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby injured, Arsenal are well stocked in the centre of the pitch.

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La semaine en France: Week 37

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
You wait 56 years for a major trophy, and then two come along at once. Eight days after ending a 56-year wait to win the Coupe de France by beating Paris Saint-Germain at Stade de France, Lille ended a 57-year wait for the Ligue 1 championship following a 2-2 draw against the same opponents down the road at Parc des Princes.

Few would argue that Rudi Garcia’s side are not worthy champions, and the title-clinching performance showcased plenty of the grit that saw them to crucial victories during the title run-in. Twice Lille went ahead, twice PSG replied, with Mathieu Bodmer’s belting 73rd-minute strike for the hosts cancelling out a close-range Moussa Sow effort that had put Lille 2-1 up moments after Guillaume Hoarau was shown a second yellow card for diving. Sow’s goal was his 22nd off the campaign, nudging him in front of Kévin Gameiro in the race for the Trophée du Meilleur Buteur.

Marseille’s 2-2 draw at home to Valenciennes meant that Lille could have afforded to lose, but OM are at least now assured of automatic Champions League qualification. The battle for the third qualifying slot will go down to the final day, meanwhile, but PSG must win at Saint-Etienne and hope Lyon slip up at Monaco to stand any chance of overhauling them. Sochaux secured their place in the Europa League after a Brown Ideye brace procured a 2-1 win over Saint-Etienne and all the teams within touching distance lost.

The relegation scrap could not be any tauter, with just three points separating 10th-placed Toulouse and third-bottom Monaco. A second-half Benjamin Moukandjo goal was enough for Monaco to win at Montpellier, but Laurent Banide’s side will still start the final day in the drop zone, a point behind Nancy, Caen and Valenciennes but with a better goal difference than four of the five sides immediately above them.

Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Auxerre 0-1 Brest, Lens 0-1 Arles-Avignon, Lyon 0-0 Caen, Marseille 2-2 Valenciennes, Montpellier 0-1 Monaco, Nice 2-0 Lorient, PSG 2-2 Lille, Rennes 0-2 Nancy, Sochaux 2-1 Saint-Etienne, Toulouse 2-0 Bordeaux

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La semaine en France: Week 31

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
Another misstep from Lille allowed Marseille to close to within a point of the leaders in Week 31, while Paris Saint-Germain confirmed their return to form by beating Lyon 1-0 and relauching their bid for a Champions League place.

Lille were held to a 1-1 draw by Bordeaux last Saturday - Vujadin Savić cancelling out Moussa Sow’s 21st goal of the season with a near-post header from a corner - but Rudi Garcia refused to sound the alarm and said he had been much more encouraged by his team’s performance than in the 1-0 loss at Monaco the week before.

Marseille capitalised by winning 2-1 at Montpellier, but as so often this season, they elected to do things the hard way. Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock for the hosts but OM replied immediately through a fine André-Pierre Gignac strike (see below) before Taye Taiwo completed the comeback from the spot. Loïc Rémy won the penalty after being held back by Abdelhamid El Kaoutari but both men were then sent off for a needless spot of argy-bargy, meaning they will both be in the stands for Saturday’s Coupe de la Ligue final.

PSG recorded their second win on the spin with a superb victory over Lyon at Parc des Princes. Antoine Kombouaré’s side completely bossed the first half but had to weather a Lyon flurry early in the second before an untidy goal by Zoumana Camara secured the points. It left Lyon six points off Lille’s pace and just a point above fourth-placed PSG.

Auxerre leapt clear of the relegation zone after a stunning injury-time free-kick by Dariusz Dudka snatched a 1-0 win at Toulouse, with Caen slipping into the bottom three thanks to a 3-2 reverse at Sochaux. Arles-Avignon were finally put out of their misery by Valenciennes and Lens are now six points from safety following a 1-1 draw with Brest.

Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Lens 1-1 Brest, Nice 3-2 Monaco, Rennes 1-2 Lorient, Saint-Etienne 2-1 Nancy, Sochaux 3-2 Caen, Toulouse 0-1 Auxerre, Lille 1-1 Bordeaux; Sunday: Arles-Avignon 0-1 Valenciennes, Montpellier 1-2 Marseille, PSG 1-0 Lyon

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La semaine en France: Week 30

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
As France baked in unseasonably warm spring temperatures, Lille and Marseille both fluffed their lines to allow Lyon a glimpse of the title and permit Paris Saint-Germain to re-ignite their Champions League ambitions.

Lille stumbled in unexpected fashion, going down 1-0 at improving Monaco after Adil Rami’s woeful back-pass allowed Park Chu-Young to break the deadlock in the 12th minute. The visitors’ cause was not helped eight minutes before half-time when Gervinho saw red for charging at Adriano following an untidy tackle from the Monaco defender and Lille’s attempts to break down their hosts’ well-drilled back four in the second half proved uncharacteristically toothless.

Second-placed Marseille would have closed to within a point of the leaders if they had beaten Toulouse but they had to settle for a point after André-Pierre Gignac’s 85th-minute equaliser earned a 2-2 draw at Stade Vélodrome. The former Toulouse player did not celebrate but he did fire a telling glare at the home fans in the Virage Nord.

Flagging Rennes, fourth, have now gone four games without a win after a 2-0 loss at Brest but there was good news on Tuesday when coach Frédéric Antonetti penned a two-year contract extension. Fifth-placed PSG closed to within four points of the Champions League places by winning 2-1 at Caen, while Lyon were the only other side in the top five to win, putting a tense week behind them to prevail 3-0 at home to Lens and climb to third.

Lens are now seven points from safety and appear destined for Ligue 2, but Monaco’s win over Lille took them out of the relegation zone at the expense of Auxerre, who have lost influential captain Benoît Pedretti for the rest of the season due to an adductor muscle injury. Arles-Avignon drew 0-0 at Bordeaux but will be relegated if they lose at home to Valenciennes on Sunday.

Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Auxerre 2-2 Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux 0-0 Arles-Avignon, Caen 1-2 PSG, Lorient 1-1 Sochaux, Monaco 1-0 Lille, Valenciennes 1-1 Nancy, Brest 2-0 Rennes; Sunday: Marseille 2-2 Toulouse, Montpellier 1-1 Nice, Lyon 3-0 Lens

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La semaine en France: Week 24

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
Having managed to avoid defeat since a 3-1 loss at home to Marseille in Week 10, Lille’s resistance finally buckled when they fell to a 1-0 loss in a scrappy and otherwise unremarkable game at Montpellier last Sunday.

Moroccan starlet Younes Belhanda scored the game’s only goal in the 84th minute, charging at the retreating Lille defence from the right flank, circumventing Adil Rami’s impromptu war dance on the edge of the box and drilling a deflected shot into the bottom-left corner. To make matters worse for Lille, all their title rivals won.

Rennes are now just two points off the pace in second place following a 2-1 win at Toulouse, while Marseille, Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain are all within four points of the leaders. Marseille moved up to third place by beating Saint-Etienne 2-1 in a fractious affair at the Vélodrome, but the night ended on a sour note for the champions after André-Pierre Gignac had to go off with a groin injury that ruled him out of the Champions League match with Manchester United.

Lyon and PSG remain level on points in fourth and fifth place respectively after both enjoyed one-sided victories. Lyon ran out 4-0 victors at home to Nancy on Friday night, while PSG outclassed Nice 3-0 on Sunday.

The week’s most eye-catching result was Bordeaux’s 5-1 capitulation at Lorient (after a tidy hat-trick from Kévin Gameiro), which prompted Bordeaux coach Jean Tigana to admit that the 2009 champions are now officially in crisis. There were red cards for Lorient full-back Franco Sosa and Bordeaux goalkeeper Cédric Carrasso - who was sent off for twice handling the ball outside his area – while Sochaux’s 3-2 win at Lens also finished with 10 men on each side after Toifilou Maoulida and Kévin Anin both saw red following a first-half tête-à-tête.

Ligue 1 results
Friday: Lyon 4-0 Nancy; Saturday: Auxerre 1-1 Arles-Avignon, Brest 2-0 Monaco, Caen 2-2 Valenciennes, Lens 2-3 Sochaux, Marseille 2-1 Saint-Etienne, Lorient 5-1 Bordeaux; Sunday: Montpellier 1-0 Lille, Nice 0-3 PSG, Toulouse 1-2 Rennes

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La semaine en France: Week 23

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
One by one, the pack closed in and Lille could do nothing but watch. The fixture computer having scheduled their home game with Toulouse for Sunday night, the league leaders had no choice but to watch as first Marseille, then Lyon and then Rennes whittled away their lead. By the time Lille took to the field at Stadium Lille-Métropole, they were just two points clear.

The pressure was on, then, but Rudi Garcia’s side produced a quietly efficient performance to win 2-0. A badly deteriorating playing surface did not make life easy, but the visitors obligingly evened things up by giving the ball away in dangerous areas with a frequency that – in the first half at least – bordered on the suicidal. Gervinho scrambled home to put Lille 1-0 up in the 38th minute and teed up substitute Túlio de Melo for the second goal in injury time.

It meant that Lille ended the weekend with their five-point lead intact. Rennes are now second after an equally straightforward 2-0 defeat of Nice. Marseille moved up to third, a point behind Rennes, after André-Pierre Gignac’s impressive double saw them come from behind to win 2-1 at Sochaux. Lyon also had to overcome the concession of an early goal, weathering a first-half storm at Saint-Etienne to record a 4-1 victory that left Jean-Michel Aulas beaming.

Paris Saint-Germain were the only title pretenders who failed to win, a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Lens dropping them to fourth, level on points with OL. Bordeaux’s mini-revival came to an end, as Romain Hamouma’s last-minute header saw them fall 2-1 at home to Caen. There were also wins for Caen’s fellow strugglers Nancy and Monaco, who won 3-1 against Auxerre to leave the erstwhile Champions League participants in 17th place and without a win in 14 games across all competitions.

Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Arles-Avignon 0-0 Montpellier, Bordeaux 1-2 Caen, Monaco 3-1 Lorient, Nancy 3-1 Auxerre, PSG 0-0 Lens, Sochaux 1-2 Marseille, Saint-Etienne 1-4 Lyon; Sunday: Rennes 2-0 Nice, Valenciennes 3-0 Brest, Lille 2-0 Toulouse

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La semaine en France: Week 20

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
There were few signs of post-Christmas hangovers as Ligue 1 resumed after the winter break, with wins for all the serious title contenders.

Leaders Lille immediately hit their stride with a 2-0 win at Nice, before Eden Hazard and Gervinho inspired Rudi Garcia’s side to a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Nancy in their re-arranged home game on Wednesday to send them four points clear of their title rivals.

Paris Saint-Germain, Rennes and Lyon head the chasing pack on 34 points, after all three kicked off 2011 with victories. PSG had the most difficult return to action, falling behind at home to Sochaux but equalising almost immediately through stand-in skipper Mamadou Sakho and securing a 2-1 victory thanks to a neat finish in the 23rd minute by Ludovic Giuly. Rennes, with new €3 million signing Razak Boukari spearheading the attack, put four unanswered goals past Arles-Avignon (including a delightful chip from Alexander Tettey and Yann M’Vila’s first ever Ligue 1 goal).

Yoann Gourcuff made his first appearance for Lyon since injuring his Achilles tendon at Schalke in November, but Bafétimbi Gomis was the star of the show with a brace of goals (the first an absolute stonker) in a 3-0 win over Lorient. Marseille had plenty of reason to cheer after beating Bordeaux 2-1. André-Pierre Gignac’s volleyed opener was his first goal at Stade Vélodrome since his summer move from Toulouse, while victory ended a run of five league games without a win and kept the champions within two points of PSG.

Toulouse climbed to sixth by beating Nancy 1-0, with Montpellier seventh after a late fightback saw them down Valenciennes 2-1. Saint-Etienne led 1-0 with 10 minutes to play at Lens but a Sébastien Roudet penalty quickly followed by a Loïc Perrin own goal saw Les Verts snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, dropping them two places to eighth.

Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Auxerre 1-1 Monaco, Brest 1-3 Caen, Lens 2-1 Saint-Etienne, Lyon 3-0 Lorient, Montpellier 2-1 Valenciennes, Nice 0-2 Lille, PSG 2-1 Sochaux, Rennes 4-0 Arles-Avignon, Toulouse 1-0 Nancy; Sunday: Marseille 2-1 Bordeaux; Wednesday: Lille 3-0 Nancy

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La semaine en France: Weeks 18 and 19

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
Fittingly, after a first half to the season in which several teams enjoyed time at the top of the table without ever being able to pull clear, not one of the sides in the top half of Ligue 1 signed off for the winter break with a victory.

Lille’s penultimate pre-Christmas game against Nancy last Sunday fell victim to the snow but they managed to cling on to top spot by virtue of a 1-1 draw at home to Saint-Etienne on Wednesday. Rudi Garcia’s side, the division’s top scorers with 33 goals from 18 matches, lead by a point from Paris Saint-Germain, Rennes and Lyon but have a game in hand on all their rivals. Marseille are three points off the pace in fifth, above Saint-Etienne on goal difference.

An 88th-minute equaliser by Daniel Niculae had seen Monaco snatch a 2-2 draw from their trip to PSG last weekend, and Paris looked heavy legged in a 2-0 defeat at Nancy on Wednesday – only their second defeat in 23 matches. Rennes’ goalscoring problems continued as they went down 1-0 at third-bottom Caen, while Lyon recorded a 1-1 draw against Auxerre to extend their unbeaten run to 12 league games.

Marseille, who drew 1-1 at home to Lyon in last Sunday’s ‘Olympico‘, once again looked worryingly blunt going forward in a 0-0 draw at Brest, which was their fifth game without a win. New signing Rod Fanni went off injured, Charles Kaboré was sent off and André-Pierre Gignac was substituted to ironic jeers in the 84th minute after another fruitless and frustrating night in front of goal.

Valenciennes (16th) and Monaco (17th) boosted their bids to avoid relegation with victories over Toulouse and Sochaux respectively, but a stoppage-time equaliser by Yoan Gouffran saw second-bottom Lens denied victory at Bordeaux (2-2), and Arles-Avignon are now 11 points from safety following a 0-0 draw with Nice.

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La semaine en France: Week 11

A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.

Ligue 1
Torrential downpours in southern France prompted the postponement of two matches over the weekend, and when the skies finally cleared the unlikely team sitting on top of the table was Brest.

Marseille’s game at home to previous leaders Rennes appeared to represent OM’s chance to recapture top spot for the first time since the end of last season, but incessant rain saw the match at Stade Vélodrome pushed back from Saturday until Sunday and then postponed definitively when the poor weather continued.

It handed Brest and Saint-Etienne the chance to climb to the summit and it was last season’s Ligue 2 runners-up who prevailed when the sides met at Stade Francis Le Blé, through a 77th-minute Mario Licka header and a sublime chip (see below) from Romain Poyet.

Brest lead the table by two points from Rennes, with Marseille, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse and Montpellier a point further back. Toulouse and Montpellier were both held to 1-1 draws at home; the former against second-bottom Lens, the latter against Paris Saint-Germain. Lyon, meanwhile, bounced back from their League Cup exit to PSG with a laboured 2-1 win at home to Sochaux that bumped them into the top half.

Bordeaux drew 2-2 at Monaco on Tuesday, after Djimi Traoré had reprised the comedy own goal act from his Liverpool days to give the away side a 10th-minute lead. Jean Tigana’s men remain ninth, but on Thursday night Les Girondins‘ captain Alou Diarra had his ban for pushing referee Wilfried Bien extended by three matches.

The build-up to the season’s first PSG-OM clash on Sunday took another twist in classically bureaucratic French style, with the ban on Marseille’s fans reinstated by the league after it had been suspended by an administrative court last week. With Brest travelling to Lille and Rennes at home to Lyon, victory could yet take Marseille top.

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